January 17, 2020

Sen. Warren Calls on Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry to Resign from Board of Energy Transfer, a Fossil Fuel Company Whose Board He Rejoined Weeks After Leaving Office

"This is exactly the kind of unethical, revolving-door corruption that has made Americans cynical and distrustful of the federal government"; Warren's anti-corruption legislation would prohibit corporations like Energy Transfer from hiring or compensating senior government officials from agencies the companies had lobbied in the past two years

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent letters to Energy Transfer, the company responsible for the Dakota Access Pipeline and other controversial fossil fuel infrastructure projects, and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry that (1) requested additional information regarding Perry's decision to rejoin the company's board of directors just weeks after leaving the U.S. Department of Energy and (2) asked that Mr. Perry reconsider his decision and immediately resign from the Board. The letters raised concerns about corruption and conflicts of interest. As Energy Secretary, Perry played a significant role in aggressively promoting and boosting the oil and gas industry in the Trump administration's energy policy -- policies Energy Transfer seeks to influence.

After serving as Governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015, Perry served as Secretary of Energy for nearly three years, from 2017 to 2019. Between these roles, Perry became a member of the board of directors of Energy Transfer and its subsidiary Sunoco in February 2015, the month after leaving office as governor. Perry left the board in December 2016, the same month then-President-elect Trump announced his intention to nominate Perry for Energy Secretary. Energy Transfer reported lobbying the Energy Department while Perry was Secretary. Perry announced his resignation as Energy Secretary in October 2019 and left office two months later. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings indicate that Perry was appointed as a director of the general partner of Energy Transfer on January 1, 2020, just weeks after departing government.

This re-appointment to the company's board is a lucrative move for Secretary Perry, who reportedly could receive an annual retainer of up to $100,000 and equally valuable stock options, and it gives Energy Transfer access to a well-connected senior former Trump administration official.

"It is disheartening that immediately following his tenure as Energy Secretary, Secretary Perry decided to rejoin the Energy Transfer board," wrote Senator Warren in her letter to Energy Transfer. "Secretary Perry's rapid trip through the revolving door between public office and membership on your company's board will lead to countless questions about whether Energy Transfer is purchasing access to high-level Trump administration officials and whether top Energy Department officials are making decisions that benefit the department's former head."

"I am concerned that, given your decision to rejoin Energy Transfer's board immediately after resigning from federal public service and your tenure overseeing the weakening of environmental protections that may benefit the fossil fuel industry, you may have used your time as Energy Secretary to benefit your former business affiliates, political allies, and future benefactor," Senator Warren wrote in her letter to former Energy Secretary Perry. "This is exactly the kind of unethical, revolving-door corruption that has made Americans cynical and distrustful of the federal government...you should rectify your mistake and immediately resign from your position on the Board of Directors of Energy Transfer."

Senator Warren requested responses from Energy Transfer no later than January 31, 2020.

Senator Warren has introduced far-reaching ethics legislation, the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, which would prevent senior government officials from spinning through the revolving door by prohibiting corporations like Energy Transfer from immediately hiring or compensating former senior government officials -- like Secretary Perry -- from an agency the company lobbies.